Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Memories may be beautiful...but sad


Some memories can never be replaced… #quotes
Never ever forget

If my head were ever hooked up to some machine that could access my strongest memory, the head scientists would be shocked.  “Well, look there, Dr. Fred!  Do you see that?! Who woulda thought?”  I can hear them saying that.

Most people would call up shared memories such as the birth of their children or maybe running under enemy fire.  No, my memory would be more plebian and consequently more peculiar.

I would access the memory of an autumn day in my sophomore year at high school.  The bus dropped me off in front of our farm house, and I walked beneath towering maple trees shedding their leaves.  My hand reached for the door, and I stepped into the warm kitchen, where my mother was washing dishes.  

 On the table, cooling from the oven was the entire head of a full grown hog.

Eyes, ears, snout, bristled hair, and pink thick skin—all the distinctive features of a hog’s head that I had seen thousands of times, but those hogs had been alive.  Those hogs had been rooting in the mud or eating from the feeder. 




big pig
Bonding time

This hog was long dead and the head had just been roasted in the oven.  The rest of the hog was cut into various roasts and chops, wrapped in white butcher paper resting comfortably in the freezer.

In just a few words, Mom sensed my discomfort.  My mother was the ultimate pragmatist, which served her well throughout her life on the farm.  She pulled out two very large crocks and set them in front of the cooling head.  “Wanta get a snack before you start taking off the meat and skin?” 

I indicated that I wasn’t hungry.  “Well, change your clothes and wash up.  You’re gonna strip the head of meat and put it in this crock.  Put the skin and what-not in this other crock.  Don’t mix them up.” 

She went on to tell me that this meat was for mincemeat pies, the great nummy pies for which she was so famous.   

Mom would take this meat, chop it up, mix it with God-knows-what-else-meat-discards and candied fruit, can it in quart jars, and set them in the pantry.  Then we would feast on mincemeat pie at Christmas time.


Old-fashioned mincemeat pie recipe from 1798 | ourheritageofhealth.com
Look this one up.
Mincemeat filling for pies homemade recipe
Well done!
Mom even sent a jar to my 7th grade teacher, who waxed eloquently about this hog-filled pie filling.  

I never had known what we were eating and enjoying.

When I set to the task by tearing off the ears and then cutting off the nose, Mom said, “Oh, put those here in this jar.  I will pickle those; your father loves those.”  I just about up-chucked.

 It didn’t get much better as the process when on.  Poke out the eyes.  Tear off the jowl meat.  Strip the muscles from the back of the neck.  On and on.  I do not recall what she said to do with the brain; I was pretty numb by then.

The science part of my own brain appreciated how God put together muscles and ligaments, attaching them to bones.  The fifteen year old farm girl in me was on the verge of vomiting. 

All in all, it stands out as a strong, indelible memory.  What is yours?

P.S.  I haven't eaten mincemeat pie for years.  But, the store-jar versions are meat free, fully vegan, so maybe now?

A re-post from a few years ago.  Can't remember when. 

29 comments:

  1. lol, yep, I can see me wanting to upchuck too. That sure is one that will stick with you, maybe haunt you too.

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  2. Bleah.
    Practical, pragmatic and an excellent way to ensure that there were plenty of mince pies left for someone else. For any one else.

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  3. I think that's a fabulous memory, certainly unforgettable and you learned a lot from that afternoon.
    Our mince pies are all fruit, with some sort of alcohol in the flavouring, but in some mince mixes there is a little suet as well, so not entirely vegan.

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    1. I shread frozen butter or shortening in mine. Brandy is always good.

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  4. It's best to not learn how the sausage is made. That's some sort of saying, right?

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    1. Oh yes. I watched Mom make sausage as well. It was pushed into hog intestines.

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  5. I'm with only slightly confused ...

    I'm sure "That would give me nightmares I think."

    All the best Jan

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    1. If it had not been on a farm, it would have been worse. there were other food processing events taking place.

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  6. I can see how that would stay with you!

    I'm not sure I could come up with one memory to hold above all others. That's an interesting question to ponder...

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    1. Mine is such a visceral memory with strong imagery. Close my eyes and the hog is still there with its quirky smile.

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    2. It's easy to remember fear. Driving through Rocky Mountain National Park is an experience that will always stay with me.

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  7. Yes, I will take some of those memories to my grave. I helped my dad kill a hog once. That was an experience I will never forget.

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    1. Did you vomit? My brothers always vomited a few times.

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  8. I remember hearing that mince meat used to involve meat but this takes it to another level. Good post.

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    1. Also included is suet or hard fat that is around kidneys, etc. of animal organs. Cool stuff. Now I use grated frozen shortening (vegetable). Yes, moves it up a notch or two.

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  9. Dear Susan, my grandmother Ready (dad's mom) was famous for her mince pies. I never saw a hog's head in her kitchen, so she must have gotten the meat ingredients elsewhere but I did know that it had meat in it. When I left the convent and had my first piece of restaurant mince pie I realized that it was quite different from Grandma's. I asked and learned that it was simply raisins and other dried fruit. It surely didn't taste the same.

    Now that I've been a vegetarian for 38 years, I no longer crave the original mince pie, but had I read your post as a young teenager, I would have given up on eating it right away!

    What a memoir.

    My worse memoir comes from when I was seven. It influenced the rest of my youth. And only later did I come to understand the emotions that I was witnessing in the kitchen of our home.

    Peace in this new year.

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    1. Modern mince meat pie has wimped out since the passing of my parent's generation. Will it come back? I doubt it.

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  10. Dear Susan, I went back and read the posted comment and realized I'd said "memoir" instead of "memory"!!! the fingers just type what they want it seems. Peace.

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    1. Having taught elementary students I am very good at filling in the blanks, so never worry about word for word.

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    2. Dear Susan, thank you! Peace.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!